Just 1 hour west of Tallahassee and 1 hour north of Panama City, Jackson County, Florida, is best known for its pristine waterways and some amazing options for enjoying them. What more and more visitors are discovering is that these beautiful waters run through some of the richest, most productive farmlands in Northwest Florida. From satsumas and blueberries to milk and eggs, the fruits of the harvest here are many. Local farmers are happy to share the goods and some will even show visitors the ropes, offering tours or workshops.
Take a look at these remarkable opportunities to explore the local grown goodness of the region and get to know the amazing people who live and work on the fertile lands of Jackson County, Florida.
Farm Tours – There’s nothing like a day on the farm! In Jackson County, there are some farmers happy to show off their operation and share their knowledge, as well as their bounty, with visitors. Lazy Acres Family Farm (6512 Americus Road, Marianna Florida 32446) is a family farm on land homesteaded in 1854. Today, it’s a migration-style farm, where chickens, cows and pigs are moved on a rotating schedule to new pasture. Individual tours can be scheduled, and the farm store offers fresh beef, pork, poultry and more. At the nearby Cindale Farms (3958 Old US Road, Marianna, Florida 32446) (also family-owned and -operated), tours can be scheduled to explore the workings of a pasture-based dairy that provides the milk for the family’s other business, Southern Craft Creamery.
You-pick Farms – Satsumas, blueberries, muscadines, amaryllis and more are all grown here and an impressive number of farms welcome visitors to pick their own or buy directly from the farmer. One standout is KB Farms Cut Flowers (2213 Eldridge Road, Cottondale, Florida 32431). From the rows of its u-pick flower field to onsite workshops to monthly subscription deliveries, this is a hands-on operation by farmer-florist Kerrie Brogdon. She seeds, transplants and harvests all stems by hand, growing seasonal annuals, native perennials and herbs. At Jackson Farms (7681 Shady Grove Road, Grand Ridge, Florida 32442), they love to give children an understanding of where their food comes from. They offer seasonal u-pick opportunities for tomatoes, watermelons, peppers, snap beans, eggplants, pickles and much more.
Special Events – Each year locals and visitors alike look forward to Farm Day Tourssponsored by the Millstone Institute for Preservation. These special days offer a glimpse into many of the local agriculture operations across Jackson County and beyond. For some farms, like Ocheesee Creamery (28367 NE State Road 69, Grand Ridge, Florida 32442) a small, three-generation dairy, this is a once-a-year open house to share their story with the public. More frequently, Green Gate Olive Grove (3754 Annie Road, Marianna, Florida 32446), the first olive grove in Florida, offers tastings of their house-made products, including olive oils, infused vinegars, sauces, spices and rubs. They also host and cater other special events. Each fall Mosier’s Family Farm (2565 Standland Road, Cottondale, Florida 32431) invites visitors to its farm to explore a family fun maze. All year long, they sell eggs and hens onsite.
Farmers Markets – The roadside stand is a staple in this rural region of Northwest Florida but The Peanut Shack (4128 US-231, Marianna, Florida 32446) has gained a reputation as a must-do stop for travelers along Highway 231. In addition to its famed peanuts, fresh, roasted or boiled, it features an impressive mix of other local produce. As markets, go, Mariana City Farmers’ Market (2844 Madison Street, Marianna, Florida 32446) is a thing of beauty! “Eat Fresh. Buy Local.” is the theme for the market and, to support these principles, it brings together growers and sellers of local fruits and vegetables, honey, dairy products, meats and more. Baked goods, jams and jellies, crafts and flowers can be found here, too. It’s open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, April through July each year.
Tasting the Goodness – Of course the best part is tasting it all! From the sweet to the savory, there are plenty of places to enjoy the goodness of the Jackson County harvest. These local establishments are known for supporting the local farming community and delighting diners in the process:
- Southern Craft Creamery (2884 Jefferson Street, Marianna, Florida 32446) is the downtown retail shop for Cindale Farms and home to its regionally famous ice cream.
- The Salt Block (4434 Lafayette Street, Marianna, Florida 32446) is the casual fine dining restaurant of Executive Chef Nick Rickman. He’s been crowned World Chef Champion at the World Food Championship and is known as a champion of fresh local ingredients, served with a modern twist.
- Southern Fields Brewing (2328 FL-2, Campbellton, Florida 32426) celebrates farmers everywhere through an array of nods to the land, water and workers that make its beer possible. The family-owned (and family-friendly) brewery presents hand-crafted brews with notes of local blueberries and satsumas as part of its extensive beer menu.
Jackson County is drawing more and more visitors to enjoy its variety of local agricultural treasures. Family farms, seasonal markets and special events complement the local shops and restaurants that feature meat and dairy, peanuts and preserves, meals and more which come from land here, by way of the people who work it. Farm-to-table living is more than a trend here, it’s a way of life.
Where to Stay
National and regional limited-service lodging options are joined by unique properties such as the historic Hinson House Bed & Breakfast (4338 Lafayette Street, Marianna, Florida 32446), which features locally sourced, farm-fresh breakfast options. For those who want to enjoy the area’s outdoors, there are more than a half dozen campgrounds offering a variety of amenities and settings.